Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unexpected carbon composition discovered in world's oldest diamonds

03.07.2008
Did life on earth begin earlier than we have hitherto believed?

While examining the oldest diamonds in the world, a group of researchers, including Martina Menneken and Dr. Thorsten Geisler from the University of Münster (Institute of Mineralogy), have found evidence that life may have existed 4.25 billion years ago.

Up to now, scientists have assumed that the first living cells came into being around 3.5 billion years ago. The prestigious magazine "Nature" has published the results in its current edition dated July 3rd, 2008.

Martina Menneken and her colleagues had already made news in 2007 when they discovered the oldest diamonds in the world. Since then a team consisting of scientists from Australia, Sweden and Münster have been continuing their analysis of the diamond and graphite inclusions in zircons from western Australia which are only a few micrometres in size and up to 4.25 billion years old. In the course of their work the researchers have found some unexpectedly low content of the heavy carbon isotope C-13. Small amounts of this isotope are typical of carbon originating from organic material.

With the aid of a secondary ion mass spectrometer the scientists have measured the proportions of various carbon isotopes (C-12 to C-13) in the inclusions in order to get more information about where the carbon came from and how the diamond and graphite inclusions arose. The proportions measured range from typical values found in the earth's crust to values characterized by an extremely low amount of the heavy C-13 isotope.

"The composition of the carbon isotopes is an indication that life may have existed 4.25 billion years ago," says Martina Menneken. However, abiogenic chemical reactions may also have caused low amounts of heavy carbon. What is certain is that very soon after the formation of the earth 4.56 billion years ago there must have existed on earth a carbon reservoir with extremely low amounts of C-13.

"Our data do not prove the existence of life 4.25 billion years ago," says Menneken, "but they do raise the question of how this unexpected carbon composition arose." The presence of living organisms is one possible explanation. If it should turn out to be true, the history of life would have to be rewritten.

Reference: Nemchin et al. (2008): A light carbon reservoir recorded in zircon-hosted diamond from the Jack Hills. Nature 454, 92-95

Weitere Informationen:
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Mineralogie/en/index.html Institute of Mineralogy / WWU

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7200/full/nature07102.html Nature-article

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-muenster.de/
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Mineralogie/en/index.html
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7200/full/nature07102.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?
06.08.2020 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

nachricht Rock debris protects glaciers from climate change more than previously known
05.08.2020 | Northumbria University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>